The Nelson Heat finished third at their Under-13 National baseball tournament over the weekend. Photo Jacob Page.

Nelson Heat earn shock bronze at baseball nationals

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1923

The Nelson Heat have won a remarkable bronze medal at the Ripken Under-13 National Baseball tournament after a slurry of stunning results at the week-long event at Rosedale Park in Auckland.

The team was only put together six months ago as baseball got a foot-hold in Nelson through former softball pitch Marty Grant and the allocation of Champion Green as a place for a baseball diamond.

The Heat went undefeated in their three pool games, beating Howick-Pakuranga 17-3, Central City 20-6 and Counties 15-3.

Nelson had four batters in the top 11 averages after pool play with Astin Knowles, Reegan Lawton, Nikau Pouaka-Grego and Matt Lowe proving super productive at the plate.

Astin and Matt were also in the top 10 pitchers rankings, proving they were multi-skilled players.

The team beat Bayside 18-3 in the quarter-final to set-up a semi-final showdown against Orewa, which they lost 12-3.

However, the Heat showed plenty of resilience to finish third thanks to a 7-0 win over Howick-Pakuranga.

Marty says the team had no expectations for their performance when they arrived at the tournament, but as the runs piled up and the wins mounted so did the pressure.

“We wanted them to  play their best but have fun.

“Once we started beating teams that were favoured to beat us, then the mood changed.

“Suddenly we’re averaging 18 runs a game.”

Marty says things did not go the way he had hoped in the semi-final but he was thrilled they bounced back in the bronze medal match.

“It’s been a heck of a ride through so much unchartered territory this year and when we got to that semi-final, I felt that caught up with us and we beat ourselves.”

Marty says he is now keen to grow the game in the Nelson and Tasman region and is eager for some coaching help, as well as more players to give the game a go.